We have two “indoor only” cats. We keep them inside all the time because it keeps them from getting fleas, ticks, and other parasites. Not to mention they don’t get in fights with other cats or animals, hit by cars or otherwise injured. We’ve found it to be all around healthier for all of us and keeps vet bills to a minimum. Keeping them inside makes for bored cats sometimes, but our house is pretty big, and they can see out most of the windows. Overall, they are pretty happy cats and from time to time we take them out on supervised adventures in the yard.
The downside to having “indoor only” cats is the cat litter boxes (just eww…)
As we all know I’m a Pinterest addict. One day I was poking around there and found the following as alternatives to having cat litter boxes out in open. These ideas are great for helping to keep litter from being scattered everywhere and getting tracked all over the house. Not to mention, it hides their, rather unsavory, appearance.
Both of these are great ideas, but I didn’t see how they could help with my biggest issue: the smell. I have an annoyingly good sense of smell and, it seems, no matter what kind of litter we used or how often we scooped the box, I could ALWAYS smell them!
My brain set to work processing these ideas and thinking how we could incorporate one of them into our home and then a couple days later I came across this:
As I stared at this image and processed it … a cat door that leads into the garage, into an enclosure where the cat box is kept…
- Gets the catbox (and the smell) out of the house.
- Allows for very little, if any, tracking of nasty litter into the house.
- Enclosure prevents cats from having free roam of garage (not a safe place for kitties)
- Enclosure prevents cats from sneaking out an open garage door.
- Enclosure prevents majority of insects and/or possible critters, such as mice, from entering the house via the cat door.
- Also acts as “sanctuary” for cats away from new puppy. We’d only had our Dobby a month or two at this point and the cats were still refusing to warm up to him.
The more I stared at this photo, the more I realized: WE COULD DO THIS! Our downstairs/bonus room/manwo cave is directly adjacent to our garage and there happens to be some empty space on that side of the wall. GENIUS!
The next chance I got, I shared the idea with Hubby and he got as excited as I was. We talked it through, made a plan (How do we make the door weather tight? Can we really seal it up well enough to prevent mice?), drew up a design, and acquired the materials. I think the total cost of this project was around $100 and the paint we used was about $40 of that.
It only took us a few hours to get it completed enough to begin painting:
At this point, we sealed up all the inside edges with caulking, and I used some Rustoleum cabinet paint I found for cheap on Craigslist to make a nice wood grain affect that blended nicely with the rest of the garage (white would have really stood out). I also primed and painted the bare drywall to protect it from any thing the cats might “do”.
The screen was a bit more challenging. I wanted it to be sealed up tight to prevent as many bugs as possible from entering the house and simply stapling the screen into the wood was not going to accomplish this… So I picked up a few rolls of foamy mounting tape and ran a strip of it around the perimeter of each section. Then I pressed the screen into the mounting tape and used plenty of staples to hold it in place. I should also share that we used “pet screen” which is made out of a thick plastic, to close up all those openings.
Since I was in charge of all the paint and sealing, Hubby was delegated to making a weather tight and functional door. We shopped around for a premade pet door and none of them seemed to be quite what we were looking for and most were way overpriced. So we decided to make our own. We did some research to determine the appropriate size for the door, cut the hole in the wall, then cut and mounted in pieces of wood to make a smooth transition from one room to the next.
Then we made the door itself. We cut a clear piece of acrylic (cats like to see what is on the other side of the door before they walk through it), attached a piano hinge we’d cut to length, and we had a 2 way swinging cat door! We also attached a magnet to the bottom of it and then put an adjacent one in the bottom of the “tunnel”. This ensures the door always gets “closed” and stays that way to help prevent unwanted airflow.
Next, we struggled with making it weather tight. Many pet doors have a feathery fringe or flexible rubber around the edges to:
- Slow the swing of the door and minimize the amount of air that gets forced through.
- Help block any air that might sneak in around the edges of the door.
We could have rigged up some kind of fringe on the door, but decided it would be easier to add the fringe to the tunnel itself. This idea wouldn’t be practical for a pet door that actually went outside as it would get wet and/or muddy, but it worked perfectly for this project. We happened to have some scraps of indoor/outdoor carpet lying around so we cut a piece to fit, stapled it into place and we had a fully functional cat door!
Finishing Touches and Introductions
Once we got everything painted and the lid attached, we added a few last things like a gate latch to hold the lid open and weather stripping around the lid. Then it was time to introduce the kitties!
IT WORKS! WE DID THAT!
It is safe to say that the project was a huge success and Hubby and I were a bit proud of ourselves.
However, despite all my efforts, ants did manage to seize the cat food and it got put back in the house (shrug).
Otherwise, it has been over a year and we’ve had no problems with it (other than the Teenager occasionally leaving the lid open after scooping and the cats escaping).
We lovingly dubbed it “The Cat Condo” A fully functional Cat Habitat!